It's time to get rid those old, expired prescription pills still sitting in your cabinets. Saturday was National Drug Take Back Day, and stations were set up to collect pills across Mid-Missouri. They all had the goal of keeping drugs out of the wrong hands and saving lives.
As of Saturday night the number of drugs turned in was not finished being counted, but it is expected to be more than last year. So far in 2013 record numbers of people were showing up to turn in their old prescriptions. This year is only the fifth year of the event, so the hope is more people understand how dangerous these drugs can be.
Getting rid of those old medicines by giving them to professionals is exactly what health experts are urging everyone to do. “If they haven’t used them at home we don’t want them to do something like flush them down the toilet or dump them down the sink because then those medications can get into the water supply,” said Chelsea Ames with UMCK School of Pharmacy.
“Ends up in our waterways or maybe a teenager or someone in the family can actually get access to these prescription drugs,” said Kelsey Lammy, the assistant coordinator at Youth Community Coalition.
It’s those hidden dangers that make safely disposing drugs more of a priority now than ever before. “Studies show that one in four teens have actually misused or abused prescription drugs and about 50 percent of them say it comes from their parents medicine cabinets,” said Lammy.
Ames added to Lammy’s comment and said, “Prescription drug abuse is actually the leading drug abuse in the teenage population especially and it’s abused more than marijuana, more than cocaine and more than the street drugs.”
Those who work with teens told ABC 17 News that kids see prescriptions as less of a threat and that parent's aren't talking with them about the risks.
"They think mentality is it's safer and not as addictive or abused because it came from a doctor who was a reputable person,” said Ames.
Health officials urge people to not wait and turn in their medication. Even if people missed the take back events, they can stop by most local police departments and turn them in. For example, in Columbia there is a 24/7 drop box in the police department lobby. As for the take-back events, they are held twice a year.
If people do turn in medicines they must not return anything sharp, such as used needles.
Holts Summit, Ashland and Sturgeon also joined in on the take back efforts.